Original Article

Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 1839-1853

First online:

An integrated methodology to assess future water resources under land use and climate change: an application to the Tahadart drainage basin (Morocco)

  • M. AntonelliniAffiliated withIGRG, University of Bologna Email author 
  • , T. DentinhoAffiliated withUniversidade dos Açores
  • , A. KhattabiAffiliated withEcole Nationale Forestière d’Ingenieures
  • , E. MassonAffiliated withUniversité des Sciences et Tecnologies
  • , P. N. MollemaAffiliated withIGRG, University of Bologna
  • , V. SilvaAffiliated withUniversidade dos Açores
  • , P. SilveiraAffiliated withUniversidade dos Açores

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The assessment of freshwater resources in a drainage basin is not only dependent on its hydrologic parameters but also on the socio-economic system driving development in the watershed area; the socio-economic aspect, that is often neglected in hydrologic studies, is one of the novelties of this study. The aim of this paper is twofold: (1) presenting an integrated working methodology and (2) studying a local case of a North African watershed where scarce field data are available. Using this integrated methodology, the effects of climate and land use change on the water resources and the economic development of the Tahadart drainage basin in Northern Morocco have been evaluated. Water salinization, tourism, urbanization, and water withdrawals are a threat to water resources that will increase with future climate change. The Tahadart Basin (Morocco 1,145 km2) is characterized by rain-fed agriculture and by the presence of two water retention basins. Assessment of the effects of climate and land use change on this drainage basin was based on current and future land cover maps obtained from spatial interactions models, climate data (current and future; scenario A1b for the period 2080–2100), and hydrological models for water budget calculations. Land use suitability maps were designed assuming a A1b Special Report on Emissions Scenarios socio-economic development scenario. The most important conclusions for the period 2080–2100 are the following: (1) Freshwater availability within the watershed will likely be affected by a strong increase in evaporation from open water surface bodies due to increased temperature. This increase in evaporation will limit the amount of freshwater that can be stored in the surface reservoirs. (2) Sea level rise will cause flooding and salinization of the coastal area. (3) The risk for drought in winter is likely to increase. The methodology used in this paper is integrated into a decision support tool that is used to quantify change in land use and water resources.


Freshwater resources management Salt water intrusion vulnerability Land use planning Coastal drainage basins Decision support tool Climate change